[To consider a cabinet report in relation to post-16 priorities for the City of Wolverhampton and work being undertaken to meet future employment and skills needs of post-16 learners in the City – the report will be sent to follow].
Kate Howard, Post 16 Lead for the Council presented a report the purpose of which was to provide an overview of the Post-16 education and skills landscape and the strategic plan to deliver Post-16 priorities which had been endorsed by SEB in March and June 2016 and the Education Board in June 2016.
Members were informed that there were 5 Priority areas to support the Post-16 City strategy which were supported by an implementation plan, endorsed by The Young People Skills and Employment Group, SEB and Wolverhampton Education Board. The areas were:
· Priority 1: Improving Partnership and Collaboration
· Priority 2: Supporting Aspirational Attainment
· Priority 3: Ensuring Demand Led and Inclusive Post-16 Provision
· Priority 4: Developing a Skills Pipeline to Sustainable Employment
· Priority 5: Planning Capital Investment
Members agreed that Priority 1 in relation to forming connections was vital for young people as it would provide them with the essential guidance needed for them to consider how best to approach a future career.
Officers confirmed that in every strategic document the Council had produced regarding this area, there was guidance in relation to careers and that training was being rolled out in all schools by independent guidance leads. Officers stated that to date 12 schools had signed up for the first phase and that they were looking at working back down the school to include pupils in year 8.
Members reiterated the fact that collaboration would be key and queried what the role of the Council would be in the process. Officers stated that the Council would act a broker and facilitator and that this role had been enhanced due to the fantastic evidence base that the council now had through the skills team.
Members did express some concern that the Council was not aspirational enough in approaching big businesses such as Jaguar Landrover. Officers stated that work was being done to get the learning routes in place to enable young people to progress into big companies at an affordable cost as at the moment many schools could not afford it.
Members stated that scrutiny had recently carried out a review into skills which had been led by Cllr Angus. Officers confirmed that the recommendations from this review were still relevant and being implemented.
Members considered page 4 of the report which referred to the establishment of business champions and a careers enterprise company initiative focusing on improving business engagement with all secondary schools across the City. Members queried whether this would focus on entrepreneurial skills. Officers stated that yes this was the main focus and that there would be 4 business champions in Wolverhampton committed to one school each.
Members highlighted a recent example where a course at the university had been specifically written in partnership with a demolition company to allow a student to achieve a relevant qualification thus showing that collaboration did work and that companies were willing to get involved. Officers agreed and stated that the introduction of the Work Box would help with this and allow officers to monitor and provide more case studies.
Members stated that vocational courses were very important and often led to good employability but that the money paid to apprentices was often poor. Officers agreed that funding could be poor and that officers were looking at ways to access funding and that the LEP was involved in this.
Members requested that information be provided before the end of the year regarding how many apprenticeships had been taken up.
The Chair queried whether there was still collaboration between educational sites. Officers stated that this was dependant on circumstances such as geography but that there was a focus on partnership working as highlighted in the report with an aim to maintaining the sustainability of the schools. Officers also stated that the Education Department had worked well in improving governance arrangements in schools and that GCSE results were rising and were now above the national average.
Members also stated the importance of ensuring that good teachers were able to remain to teach post 16 students in schools as it was often the support of a good teacher that encouraged young people to remain in education and pursue their career choice.
Members thanked officers for a detailed and impressive paper.
1. That the comments of the Committee be noted.
2. That information be provided in relation to the number of apprenticeships taken up,